Hoi An

I’ve never really been one for bucket lists. Sure, there’s things I want to do and achieve, but I’ve never really put them into a bucket list… maybe I just need to buy a bigger bucket.

When I was five years old, I decided there were a few things I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be
a) a teacher (yep, I can tick that off)
b) a successful musician (I can tick that off too)
c) a counselor (kinda went with the territory of teaching)
d) a clothing designer (yeah… not so much)
e) a mother (that will come with time, I’m sure)

Three out of five ain’t so bad. I did have another thing on my list, and that was to save the world – but that’s a mission in progress… Ha.

Anyway, last year was a particularly huge year for me – I got a lot of shit done from my to do list. I lost over 20kg, I got fit, I learned to lift, I completed Tough Guy & Gal, I completed Tough Mudder, I appeared on The Goodmorning Show AND in New Idea Magazine… I remember often thinking to myself “how the heck am I going to top 2014?”

It started off well – I completed the Milford Track…
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I performed at Vector Arena doing X Factor…
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… and then I got booted off and broke up with El Boyfriend. So what the hell was I going to do now? FIND THAT DAMNED BUCKET LIST!! So now I find myself in Vietnam, and diving head first into astounding culture, flavors, scenery, and people.

Introducing Phu (pronounced Foo – no, he’s not a Foo Fighters fan, unfortunately):
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Phu is seventy years old, and rides a motorbike around the city. His wife is sixty seven, and sells magazines in the city. He also told me he has four sons and three daughters; the oldest being forty years old, but unfortunately four of his children have passed away from “sickness”. So now he only has two sons and a daughter left, but none of them are in contact with him. I gathered pretty quickly they’re not on good terms – especially when he said if he ever saw his sons again, he’d punch them in the face. Anyway, Phu makes a living from giving people rides around the city, and he was epic enough to take me to Hoi An: the ancient city; 30km there and 30km back for an astounding 400,000VND. That’s $24.89NZD

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I’d been recommended going to Hoi An by quite a few people. It’s a beautiful little town with a population of almost 122,000 people – and it was established in the 15th century… so its buildings are over 600years old. Phu actually said most of them were around 800years old. That’s pretty epic.

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While it was awesome to be in such an old, historical part of Vietnam though, I didn’t really like it. It had turned into a tourist area with everything aimed at Westerners. As soon as people realized I wasn’t Vietnamese, they’d start asking me for money. I’m not gonna lie, I felt bad. Westerners have SO MUCH more as far as money and STUFF goes – but Phu got really shitty with them. He told me (in really broken English) he hated how greedy they were, and he didn’t like how much Hoi An had changed. If anyone asked me for money, he’d laugh and pretty much tell them to stop being stupid. Thank you, Phu!

We DID go on a bit of a cruise around the dirty-as-funk river though (which we bartered down from 400,000VND to 200,000VND – again, thank you Phu!
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(that’s a fishing net)

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Anyway, I asked Phu what he preferred to see, and he decided to take me to THE MOUNTAIN (there’s not many haha)
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before we headed back to Da Nang. I tried to take as many photos on the way as I could…

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(that’s a cycling tourist group)

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It seems that almost every house has a zillion statues or monuments on their front lawn… though some of them seem to excessive. I’m not sure… some of the properties might be museums or temples… or just filthy rich people.

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We eventually got back to Da Nang, and Phu decided to take me somewhere HE wanted to go. Finally.

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This is the Buddhist monastery at Buddha Bay. It was glorious. With 18 La Han statues out the front, the entire area was gorgeous. “La Han” is the Vietnamese translation for the Buddhist term “Arhat” which means “perfected person” or “one who is worthy”.

Having never been to a Buddhist temple before, I was blown away by the colour and detail of the architecture, and design of the building. We took off our shoes at the entrance, and entered in to find three Buddhist statues; which we then bowed down, and paid our respects to.

But, aesthetics aside, the temple had NOTHING on the Lady Buddha Da Nang: Bodhisattva of Mercy. At 67m high, SHE was nothing short of magnificent

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Yep.

Thank you Phu.

Go back to the hotel in time for lunch – thank you to the beautiful ladies running the street food stall down the road. They speak NO English whatsoever (except “hello” and “thank you”) but we’ve already hit off what seems to be a really good friendship. As soon as I got there, they sat me down and taught me how to make Vietnamese rolls, before giving me another hot roll which I’ve figured out is chilli, coriander and fish. Nom.

I’m meeting a Couch Surfing chick tonight too for a few beers and seeing the night life. Rad.

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